Do I need a drum machine?
Well, drums determine the rhythm of the song.
They’re considered the “most important part of the rhythm section of any band.” Assuming that’s true, why wouldn’t you want to invest in the best drum equipment you can. A drum machine might be that investment to take your drums to the next level.
Read this to determine whether or not you should get a drum machine.
Benefits of getting a drum machine
- Better drum patterns
- Faster experimentation
- Emulate live drummers
Better Drum Patterns
It’s much easier to get in a groove hitting drum pads instead of pressing the keyboard. The keyboard is smaller and stiffer than actual pads though.
Imagine sitting in your chair using your trackpad to work in the DAW. It’s annoying trying to put your drum placements together. Compare that to a drum machine where you can set up your drums in 3-4 buttons.
They also make multi-part sequencing easier too.
These drum machines can also help with synth sequencing and are a big help when making songs.
Working on a drum machine also lets you experiment more. The experimentation benefit relates to making better drum patterns, but that’s only a part of the experimentation we’re talking about.
Assuming you’ve experienced a DAW, you’ll know how much time it takes to move tracks around. With drum machines, you’re able to move drums around quicker. It’s also quicker to work with different drums.
Drum machines make it so you can just configure sounds into it and start trying patterns right away. Besides the inputs, you can also adjust the levels. Adjusting modulation, attack, or reverb is easier using a drum machine.
We talked about quantization before in our drum programming post. But, for those who don’t know, quantizing is placing your input to the closest grid. In other words, it’s making your input stay in beat with the other inputs.
Pressing your keyboard to match the other inputs in a grid is harder.
Emulate Live Drummers
You might be wondering why you would want to emulate a live drummer in your track. Well, human brains can distinguish small differences in sound. And, having a live feel to your tracks adds a different texture to them.
It’ll separate you from other producers that just use DAWs to produce, and makes your music less predictable.
One small, but noticeable difference you can make is through velocity. This just means how hard you hit an instrument. Let’s take drums for example. If you add more velocity to a snare in comparison to the other drums, your track will sound less robotic.
Another way drum machines can help is by de-quantizing. Even the best drummers in the world can’t time drum hits the way software can. This is what makes digitally produced drums sound robotic.
The timing is down to the millisecond and humans can't time that naturally. A drum machine will give you a slight difference in time to humanize a track.
Why shouldn't you get a Drum Machine?
- You’re a beginner
- Specific genres don’t work as well
Producers who are new to music production shouldn’t get a drum machine.
It’s more important for them to practice their fundamentals and understand how DAWs work. Understand the different tools you can get for free and understand how to work in a DAW before buying anything.
Consider downloading free DAWs like Garageband to start producing music and then figure out if a drum machine is necessary.
It’s also important to consider what genre you’re going to produce for. Drum machines don’t work for every genre. One example includes heavy metal where every drum hit needs to be at full power and a human drummer gives that feel.
This is unlike EDM or other dance music where your drum beats need to be perfect so a drum machine makes more sense. It’s so much easier to quantize your inputs with a drum machine which is why getting one makes sense for electronic music.
Is a Drum Machine worth It?
The only person who knows whether a drum machine is worth it is you. Hopefully, after reading this, you have enough information on whether or not you should get one.
The only reminder we have is to remember that drum machines aren’t necessary to be a great producer. You don't need one to create great drums. If that's your weakness, consider adding more power to your drums, or work with other producers to get tips.
You don’t need drum machines to create addicting drum patterns. All you really need is a DAW, and that’s enough to create a hit song.